Saturday, June 4, 2011

What's For Dinner?

Last night's dinner involved several trips out to the garden, two full compost pails, a too-hot stove top, a smoking grill, a symphony of dinging timers, an intimidating stack of dirty dishes (sorry Pops), and lots of happy murmurs of appreciation.

I started out by assuming my usual position at the cutting board. Knife in hand, I started chopping up every variety of fresh fruit I could scrounge up: juicy cross-sections of pineapple and watermelon, handfuls of blueberries and green grapes, tart slices of Granny Smith, Jazz, Gala, and Braeburn apples, and neatly cut strawberries, bananas, and oranges.

Family Fruit Salad

After sweeping away all the rinds, peels, stems, leaves, and cores that littered the countertop, I ventured out to the garden with our ancient salad spinner to harvest oregano, sage, lemongrass, parsley, chives, green romaine lettuce, red bowl lettuce, black seeded Simpson lettuce, baby spinach, and radishes. Then I added carrots, red & yellow pepper, cucumbers, celery, and craisins from the store...before sprinkling pepper, sesame seeds, and Penzeys' Sunny Paris seasoning on top.

Family Garden Salad

While I tossed the salad, Mom started working on seasoning the two captain's cut cod fillets that we picked up earlier in the day. She used olive oil, a blend of Japanese-style Panko seasoned and whole wheat bread crumbs, and coriander to prepare the fish for the grill (before sending me back to the garden to pick more sage and parsley).

Captain's Cut Cod, For the Girls

While I took over the decorating of the fillets, my mom assembled four pieces of chicken cordon bleu to bake for the men in the family (who don't like fish).

Handmade Chicken Cordon Bleu, For the Boys

The fish went out to the grill (8 minutes per side) and the chicken cordon bleu was tucked into the oven. We turned our attention to the orange sauce we hoped would liven up our thick portions of cod. I learned about orange zest as my mom started tinkering with the recipe (no surprise there!).

Orange Zest, Parchment Paper

Since I got a bit over-zealous with my assignment we sprinkled the extra on top of the fruit salad. I highly recommend this - it heightened the other flavors and just added some zip to an otherwise typical fruit salad.

Fruit Salad, with Zip!

After popping the fruit salad back into the refridgerator, we finished gathering the rest of the ingredients for the cod's orange sauce.

What we needed:
-1 large orange (to create 1 tablespoon of orange zest)
-1 cup of orange juice
-1 teaspoon of white wine
-1 tablespoon of softened butter
-5 leaves of sage (note: while they add a nice garnish, they just burn if you put them on the grilling basket!)
-A generous clipping of parsley
-A dash of salt
-A dash of pepper

Simmering Orange Sauce

What we did:
-Mixed the orange juice and wine with the melted butter in a sauce pan
-Let it sit over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (if you're like us and forgot to pre-melt the butter)
-Added pepper, salt, and orange zest
-Let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes (if you're like us this really means until the cod is done cooking)
-Poured sauce over the fillets and served it as quickly as we could

A Two-Man Operation

Grilled Cod with Orange Sauce

What we thought:
It was excellent. Our orange sauce was a fun alternative to a blackening or everything seasoning. It wasn't too time-consuming to whip up and it gave our perfectly flaky pieces of cod a wonderful flavor - without drowning out the more subtle spices from the bread crumbs, the coriander, the sage, and the parsley.

Of course, no dinner would be complete without a comparison of my meal and Brother #3's meal.

My Dinner

Brother #3's Dinner

What a success! It's dinners like these that make me homesick when I'm away at school.

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